Winter storm in the US leaves 18 dead and causes blackouts

BUFFALO, N.Y. (HPD) — A frigid winter storm has killed at least 18 people as it swept across the country, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses and causing concern. millions of people from the possibility of blackouts on Christmas Eve.

The storm unleashed its full fury on Buffalo, New York, bringing hurricane-force winds that brought blizzard conditions. Emergency response efforts have come to a standstill and the city’s international airport has been closed.

Authorities from different parts of the United States have attributed the deaths to exposure to low temperatures, car accidents, falling tree branches and other effects of the storm. At least three people died in the Buffalo area, including two who suffered medical emergencies at home and couldn’t be saved because rescuers couldn’t reach them in a historic blizzard.

Heavy snowfall, single-digit temperatures and power outages the day before prompted Buffalo residents on Saturday to leave their homes for anywhere with heat. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said Saturday that Buffalo Niagara International Airport will be closed until Monday morning and that nearly all fire trucks in Buffalo have been stranded in the snow.

“It doesn’t matter how many emergency vehicles we have: they can’t get through the conditions” created by the storm, Hochul explained.

Blinding blizzards, freezing rain and freezing cold also caused power outages from Maine to Seattle, while a major power grid operator warned the 65 million people it serves in the eastern United States that they could be needed scheduled blackouts.

Pennsylvania-based utility PJM Interconnection said power plants are having a hard time operating in the frigid weather and urged residents of 13 states to try to use electricity for basic purposes only until at least the morning of May 25. December. PJM Interconnection—which covers all or part of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC—also warned that blackouts may be necessary scheduled.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides electricity to 10 million people in Tennessee and parts of the six surrounding states, on Saturday ordered local power companies to implement scheduled outages to “ensure the reliability of the electrical system” but suspended the measure. at night.

Across the six states in the New England region, more than 273,000 grid customers remained without power as of Saturday afternoon, with Maine hardest hit, with some utilities warning it could be days before power is restored. .

In North Carolina, nearly 169,000 customers were still without power overnight, down from a peak of more than 485,000, but utility officials said rolling outages will continue for “the next few days.”

Among those without power was James Reynolds of Greensboro, who said his roommate, a 70-year-old with diabetes and severe arthritis, spent the morning huddled next to a kerosene heater with indoor temperatures ” around 50 degrees.

In Cheektowaga, a Buffalo suburb, two people died in their homes Friday when emergency crews were unable to arrive in time to treat their medical conditions, according to Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz. He revealed that another person died in Buffalo and considered that the blizzard could be “the worst storm in the history of our community.”

Ambulances needed more than three hours to cover a trip to a hospital, Poloncarz added.

Forecasters said 28 inches (71 centimeters) of snow had accumulated in Buffalo as of Saturday. Last month, areas south of the city saw a record of around 6 feet (1.8 meters) of snow in a single storm.

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Bleiberg reported from Dallas. Associated Press writers Marc Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Corey Williams in Southfield, Michigan; John Raby in Charleston, West Virginia; Maysoon Khan in Albany, New York; Hannah Schoenbaum in Raleigh, North Carolina, Wilson Ring in Stowe, Vermont; and John Hanna in Topeka, Kansas contributed to this report.

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